Purpose: To analyze the anthropometric and physiological characteristics of competitive 15- to 16-year-old young male road cyclists and scale them according to a dichotomous category of successful/unsuccessful riders. Methods: A total of 103 15- to 16-year-old male road cyclists competing in the Italian national under 17 category performed a laboratory incremental exercise test during the in-season period. Age, height, body mass, body mass index, peak height velocity, and absolute and relative power output at 2 mmol/L and 4 mmol/L of blood lactate concentration were compared between 2 subgroups, including those scoring at least 1 point (successful, n = 70) and those that did not score points (unsuccessful, n = 61) in the general season ranking. Results: Successful and unsuccessful riders did not differ anthropometrically. Successful riders recorded significantly higher absolute and relative power output at 2 mmol/L and 4 mmol/L of blood lactate concentration compared with unsuccessful riders. Successful riders were also significantly older and had advanced biological maturation compared with their unsuccessful counterparts. Conclusion: Power associated with blood lactate profiles, together with chronological age and peak height velocity, plays an important role in determining race results in under 17 road cycling. Physiological tests could be helpful for coaches to measure these performance predictors.
Gabriele Gallo, Luca Filipas, Michele Tornaghi, Mattia Garbin, Roberto Codella, Nicola Lovecchio, and Daniele Zaccaria
Gabriele Gallo, Mireille Mostaert, Emanuela Faelli, Piero Ruggeri, Sundeep Delbarba, Roberto Codella, Pieter Vansteenkiste, and Luca Filipas
Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between youth road cycling success and becoming a professional cyclist. Specifically, the authors sought to analyze (1) the differences in the success scores in youth categories between future professional (PRO) and future nonprofessional (NON-PRO) cyclists, (2) whether relative age effect influences youth road cycling career pathways, and (3) whether youth competition success could predict a future career as a professional cyclist. Methods: The number of points gathered in the annual national ranking of 1345 Italian cyclists in the U17, U19, and U23 categories were retrospectively analyzed. Participants were divided into 2 groups: PRO (n = 43) and future NON-PRO (n = 1302), depending on whether they reached the professional level. Results: PRO outperformed NON-PRO in all the youth categories considered (ie, U17, U19, and U23). Older cyclists within the same annual age group were not overrepresented in PRO and do not have an advantage over younger cyclists within all the competition years. The number of points gathered in youth competitions provides an indication of probability of becoming professional cyclists from U17 onward with the predictive value increasing with age category. Conclusions: Handling the transition to a new age group well (especially the U19–U23 transition), and therefore having success competing against older and more experienced cyclists, is an important factor for talent identification in youth cycling.
Gabriele Gallo, Manuel Mateo-March, Daniel Gotti, Ed Maunder, Roberto Codella, Piero Ruggeri, Emanuela Faelli, and Luca Filipas
Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe individual training characteristics, racing strategies, and periodization in preparation for the Tour de France in 2 world-class road cyclists finishing in the top 5 of the general classification. Methods: Week‐by‐week power meter training and racing data of 2 (A and B) road cyclists (age: 29 and 23 y; maximum oxygen consumption: 83 and 81 mL·min−1·kg−1; and relative 20‐min record power output: 6.9 and 6.5 W·kg−1) in the preparation phase (December–July/August) leading up to the Tour de France were retrospectively analyzed. Weekly volume and intensity distribution in power zones were considered. Results: Cyclists A and B completed 46 and 19 races, 22.5 (6.3) and 18.2 (5.1) h·wk−1, with a pyramidal intensity distribution of 81.0%–13.3%–5.7%, and 88.8%–7.9%–3.3% in zone 1–zone 2–zone 3. Cyclist B spent 14 days at altitude. Increased high-intensity volume and polarization index occurred during race weeks. During periods without racing, training intensity progressively increased. Strength training was performed during November and December but not during the following months. During tapering, total exercise volume and time at high intensity decreased. Conclusion: These data provide novel insights into the periodization of world-class road cyclists in advance of a top 5 placing in the Tour de France general classification.
Gabriele Gallo, Peter Leo, Manuel Mateo-March, Andrea Giorgi, Emanuela Faelli, Piero Ruggeri, Iñigo Mujika, and Luca Filipas
Purpose: To compare the race demands of junior (JUN), under 23 (U23), and professional (PRO) road cyclists. Methods: Thirty male cyclists, divided into 3 age-related categories (JUN, n = 10; U23, n = 10; and PRO, n = 10), participated in this study. Race data collected during the 2019 competitive season were retrospectively analyzed for race characteristics, external, and internal competition load. Results: Higher annual and per race duration, distance, elevation gain, Edward’s training impulse, total work, and work per hour were observed in PRO versus U23 and JUN, and U23 versus JUN (P < .01). PRO and U23 recorded higher mean maximal power (RPOs) between 5 and 180 minutes compared with JUN (P < .01). Edward’s training impulse per hour was higher in JUN than PRO and U23 (P < .01). Accordingly, JUN spent a higher percentage of racing time in high internal intensity zones compared with U23 and PRO, while these 2 categories spent more time at low internal intensity zones (P < .01). Conclusions: JUN races were shorter and included less elevation gain per distance unit compared to U23 and PRO races, but more internally demanding. JUN produced less power output in the moderate-, heavy-, and severe-intensity exercise domains compared with U23 and PRO (RPOs: 5–180 min). U23 and PRO races presented similar work demands per hour and RPOs, but PRO races were longer than U23.
Luca Pollastri, Gabriele Gallo, Milena Zucca, Luca Filipas, Antonio La Torre, Ugo Riba, Luigi Molino, and Elisabetta Geda
Background: The effects of anodal transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) on endurance exercise performance are not yet fully understood. Different stimulated areas and low focality of classical tDCS technique may have led to discordant results. Purpose: This study investigated the effect of a bilateral anodal high-definition tDCS (HD-tDCS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the cycling time-trial (TT) performance and physiological and perceptual response at moderate intensity in elite cyclists. Methods: A total of 8 elite cyclists (maximal oxygen consumption: 72.2 [4.3] mL·min−1·kg−1) underwent in a double-blind, counterbalanced, and randomized order the experimental treatment (HD-tDCS) or control treatment (SHAM). After 20 minutes of receiving either HD-tDCS on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (F3 and F4) or SHAM stimulation, the participants completed a constant-load trial (CLT) at 75% of the second ventilatory threshold. Thereafter, they performed a simulated 15-km TT. The ratings of perceived exertion, heart rate, cadence, oxygen consumption, and respiratory exchange ratio were recorded during the CLT; the ratings of perceived exertion and heart rate were recorded during the TT. Results: The total time to complete the TT was 1.3% faster (HD-tDCS: 1212  s vs SHAM: 1228  s; P = .04) and associated with a higher heart rate (P < .001) and a tendency toward higher mean power output (P = .05). None of the physiological and perceptual variables measured during the CLT highlighted differences between the HD-tDCS and SHAM condition. Conclusions: The findings suggest that bilateral HD-tDCS on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex improves cycling TT performance without altering the physiological and perceptual response at moderate intensity, indicating that an upregulation of the prefrontal cortex could enhance endurance exercise performance.
Gabriele Gallo, Manuel Mateo-March, Peter Leo, Antonio Campos-Donaire, Alexis Gandia-Soriano, Andrea Giorgi, Emanuela Faelli, Piero Ruggeri, Roberto Codella, Iñigo Mujika, and Luca Filipas
Purpose: To investigate the relationship of field-derived power and physical performance parameters with competition success in road cycling climbing specialists of age-related categories and to explore cross-sectional differences between high-ranked (HIGHR) climbing specialists of each category.
Methods: Fifty-three male climbers participated in this study (junior [JUN], n = 15; under 23 [U23], n = 21; professional [PRO], n = 17). Training and racing data collected during the 2016–19 competitive seasons were retrospectively analyzed for record power outputs (RPOs) and RPOs after prior accumulated work.
Results: In JUN, body mass, absolute RPOs, and relative RPOs were higher in HIGHR compared with low ranked (d = 0.97–2.20, large; P = .097–.001); in U23 and PRO, the percentage decrease in RPOs after 20, 30, 40, and 50 kJ·kg−1 was less in HIGHR compared with low ranked (d = 0.77–1.74, moderate–large; P = .096–.004). JUN HIGHR presented lower absolute and relative RPO-20 min (
Gabriele Gallo, Elisabetta Geda, Roberto Codella, Emanuela Faelli, Marco Panascì, Luis Eduardo Ranieri, Luca Pollastri, Stefania Brighenti, Luigi Molino, Ugo Riba, Livio Luzi, Piero Ruggeri, and Luca Filipas
Purpose: To investigate the effects of bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex high-definition transcranial direct-current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on physiological and performance responses during exercise at the upper limit of the severe-intensity exercise domain in elite-level road cyclists. Methods: Eleven elite-level road cyclists (VO2peak: 71.8 [3.1] mL·kg−1·min−1) underwent the HD-tDCS or SHAM condition in a double-blind, counterbalanced, and randomized order. After 20 minutes of receiving either HD-tDCS on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (F3 and F4) or SHAM stimulation, participants completed a 10-minute constant-load trial (CLT1) at 90% of the first ventilatory threshold and a 2-minute CLT (CLT2) at peak power output. Thereafter, they performed a simulated 2-km time trial (TT). Maximal oxygen uptake, respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion were recorded during CLT1 and CLT2, whereas performance parameters were recorded during the TT. Results: In 6 out of 11 cyclists, the total time to complete the TT was 3.0% faster in HD-tDCS compared to SHAM. Physiological and perceptual variables measured during CLT1 and CLT2 did not change between HD‐tDCS and SHAM. Conclusions: HD-tDCS over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex seemed to improve cycling TT performance within the upper limit of the severe-intensity exercise domain, suggesting that an upregulation of the prefrontal cortex could be critical even in this exercise intensity domain. However, the limited dimension and the high interindividual variability require further studies to test these putative ergogenic effects.